Thursday, February 13, 2014

BBC Sherlock disses real Sherlock Holmes

Orson Welles described Sherlock Holmes as a man who was never born and will never die. The current BBC series Sherlock is trying to kill the guy nevertheless. The real Sherlock invented by A. Conan Doyle was an English gentleman wish a single outstanding skill: He solved crimes that no one else could. He had a friend, John Watson, who wrote about his cases for the press in a time when fiction appeared regularly on the front pages of newspapers.

Generations of readers have enjoyed the exploits of Holmes, who seldom stooped to violence, even when dealing with violent criminals. Once Holmes solved a crime by clever deduction, he invariably called in the police. His favorite weapon was a loaded hunting crop. This was not a firearm, but a riding crop weighted with lead shot to make it more effective as a weapon. Holmes did not strike people with this weapon, however, instead using it to disarm assailants.

Doctor Watson did carry, on occasion, his army revolver, but he seldom discharged it. Instead, Watson carried the revolver when Holmes suspected there might be need of it. Holmes himself carried a cane or a hunting crop. While Watson had a revolver in his pocket during the Adventure of the Speckled Band, Holmes drove a poisonous snake away by flailing at it with his cane. Watson did not see the snake in the dark, so was unable to use his weapon.

My point is that Holmes seldom carried a gun and only once fired it at a man. In the Sign of Four, Holmes and Watson fired simultaneously at a pygmy who was about to shoot a poison dart at them. Holmes thus showed great reticence to take a human life, even when he was threatened himself.

Holmes also had great respect for women. Many of his clients were ladies who found themselves in need of his assistance to find a lost sweetheart or recover stolen letters. Gentlemen of those times had very lax morals and prostitution was rampant in London, but Holmes never used women in that way and showed only sympathy for them.

Watson fell in love and married. His wife was Mary Morstan, whose
face had neither regularity of feature nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual and sympathetic. In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature.
Holmes shared Watson's opinion of Mary, although he vowed never to marry, because emotion might cloud the reason that he prized above all other virtues.

Such was the original Holmes, his faithful friend Watson, and Watson's loving wife, Mary.

The producers of the current production seem intent on destroying every vestige of the original Holmes. Holmes is no longer a gentleman. He is rude and insensitive to the feelings of others, even his friend Watson. In the latest installment of this travesty, Holmes makes love to a woman in a ruse to gain access to her employer's office. Watson is shocked by his behavior, not because it is crude and disrespectful, but because it is so out of character.

The producers have prepared an even more shocking plot twist however. Mary Watson, instead of a loving wife, is actually an assassin for the CIA. Just after Holmes discovers her in ninja garb(!) about to murder a man, Mary levels a pistol at Holmes's chest. Holmes takes a step toward her, convinced that she would never assault a friend. She shoots him at point blank range, however, thus completing the most unlikely plot twist in the entire Holmes canon. But one more outrage is to follow.

In the climactic scene of the episode, Holmes draws a pistol and murders a man in cold blood. This action is not merely entirely contrary to the character of the original man, but stands as an insult to fans as well. We are fans of Holmes because he is brilliant, true, but we are also fans because he is good. Holmes spends his life fighting against criminals and protecting their would-be victims. He never raises his hand against a man except in self-defense. He risks his own life to save others. He is a devoted friend and thoroughly honorable.

What, then, are we to make of this new Holmes, thoroughly despicable, a rake, and a killer? This new fellow has very little of the old Holmes. He is hardly able to make an accurate deduction. He deduces that the female assassin is not Mary. He mistakenly assumes that she will not shoot him. This new Holmes, in addition to being immoral and craven, is incapable of solving any crime. Like James Bond, he seldom solves anything; he only kills the criminal in the final scene.

We do not recognize this detective as related to his namesake. The producers obviously think they are being clever. The fans of Sherlock Holmes deserve better.

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